Elder, Dr. David “Doc” Kenser, gives us a daily reflection and devotion.
In reading from the Book of Acts this morning, I came across this reflection on King David, “Now when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep; he was buried with his ancestors and his body decayed” (13:36t).
It is important to note that while David was not perfect, he was someone about which “God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do'” (Acts 13:22).
So David, imperfections and all, served God faithfully “in his own generation.” It is critical to note that faithful service to God has the component of doing so in the generation God calls you to serve. In my work as an Arkansas Hospice chaplain, I daily minister to individuals of an advanced age, people from an earlier generation. People who resonate with references to farm life, individuals familiar with the sayings of Will Rogers and those who light up when I sing classic hymns.
Those folk are my generation when I’m on the job. Most of my patients are well beyond my six decades. They are open to and respond well when I speak in the language of their generation. And, since I am called to work with them, I have to step out of this generation and into one from a former time. That is my generation for those visits.
However, when I’m working with veterans who are often younger than myself, I step into a different generation for which urban references replace farm talk, Will Smith over Will Rogers and contemporary Christian music connect much better than classic hymns.
Do you see my point? If you’re going to minister to residents of a nursing home, that is one generation into which you are stepping. If you are attempting to do outreach in a retirement village, that is another one. If you are trying to connect with Millennial families, you have entered into a different generation again. And, if you are going to reach today’s Generation Z (AKA: iGeneration, Post Millennials, Centennials or Plurals), you are entering into an entirely new and different world.
We are faithful to God not by clinging to the rituals and idioms and patterns of our past, but by taking the ageless, eternal message of God and presenting it in the language and idioms and music of the generation into which we are called to serve – that is our generation for the purposes of ministry.
In considering whom to serve, your ability to speak their language, understand their thinking and idioms should weigh heavily. If you are not familiar with one group or another, it is better to move on or determine to learn how to connect and communicate.
Specifically, to serve God in your generation requires that you are equipped to serve there, which may come naturally if you are serving in your own age group. Or, it may require retooling if you are reaching out to those born in a different time than yourself. To serve God in your own generation is to serve those of the generation you are choosing to own or adopt. That may require a rather radical change in your personal outlook and communicative style. Jus’ Say’n.